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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  January 19, 2014 10:30pm-11:01pm EST

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>> hello and welcome. >> hello and welcome. i'm phil torres here to talk about innovations that can change lives. we're going to explore the intersection of hardware and humanity and we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. hard core in other words: marita davidson, is a scientist, specializing in ecology and evolution. testing a meat substitute that claims to taste like the same thing. >> it does taste like chicken. >> we've put it to a test. >> dr. crystal dilworth is a molecular neuroscientist.
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the science of greats. e-cigarettes. kyle hill is an engineer and i'm phil torres. ill i'm an entomologist. that's our show now let's do some science. ♪ ♪ >> hi guys, welcome to "techknow". i'm phil torres and i'm here with kyle, marita and crystal. now guys, as an entomologist, i love a good challenge in the field. there is a scientific mystery
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that i went to the peruvian amazon to solve. there is this weird structure. >> what is that? >> we went down there in the fact that this thing had been found in one place twice. one of the best thing about working in the amazon rain forest is the road along the way to uncovering the scientific mysteries. join me on the expedition that's about to get wet, wild and a little bit muddy. the peruvian amazon, a huge population of endemic plant and animal species, meaning they are found nowhere else on the earth. >> why here in tambopata? it is one of the unique places in the amazon that has been almost completely undies turned by deforestation. this makes it one of the most beautiful and pristine places around. about six months ago the researcher here at the tamba pata research center took a picture and posted it on the
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internet. little did he know the huge amount of attention it would get as people from amateurs to experts tried to figure out what it was. we are here with a team of science to figure out what's making it. all right, we are here. and what are we going to do? >> catching one in the act of making its. >> this thing has really confused me because i keep going between it being possibly a spider or maybe some weird spider might that nobody's ever found before. everything we've seen is so little. what do you think so far? >> i don't think it's a spider at work. >> our nighttime several yielded -- our nighttime search yielded no new information, as the
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mystery continued to confound us. we turned our attention to another one of our intriguing scientific discoveries. a spider that creates a fake spider within its web. >> what's the current plan? >> we are going to try to find as many fake spiders as we can. for each one we'll flag them with this stuff, flag them with as many as we can and every 12 hours we'll take a photograph and hopefully get an understanding of how they are building these structure and especially considering how much wrain we've been getting. >> and using a ruler we can determine the rate of growth. >> exactly. >> right now, we don't know how fast they can build those fake spiders. >> exactly. it's kind of like we're watching little architects in action. >> exactly. let's get going. >> it almost seems like it's undergone the motte growth since we've been watching. >> you can imagine once it
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develops a little bit more, it's a little spider-like and that should help avoid it getting eaten. >> exactly. >> let's take a closer look with our cameras. >> that's basically eight centimeters, which is huge when you compare it to the length of the actual spider which is three, four millimeters. >> exactly. >> actually, that is like a shed skin. i'm curious if he's going to put that into the decoy. >> in his decoy, basically you shed your skin and make it part of your house. >> yeah. oh, that's awesome. >> you definitely write this down, and make a record of why this one is kind of messed up, compared to last time. >> the great thing about stirring what is unknown is every tiny bit of information we get on it is like a mountain more than we had before. >> exactly. >> it's so amazing. >> it's so amazing. this was spider number 5?
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>> yeah. >> aside from man, the decoy spider is the only known species to construct a diversion as a means of survival. happy with the answers we fourth for the decoy spider, we turned to our tambo pata lab to determine the answers we still lack for the purpose of our structure. >> i can't determine the purpose to have a tall tower in the center of the fence. >> really really confusing. one of more confusing things are these mites that we keep seeing in there. >> yes, but i mean -- i can't see them being responsible for it but we do keep seeing them in just about every structure we've looked at. >> one of the really bizarre things is how many of these structures we have seen but we haven't seen anything actually build them. we really have no idea. >> we need to find whoever is responsible is making these in the act of making them. >> what i think is really amazing is some of the experts we asked
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about this, some of the largest spider scientists, they really are very unsure which is why it's so exciting to be here right now because we may be able to solve this mystery. perplexed but hopeful for a breakthrough, we turn to a different kind of thrill for our next quest. one of the most fascinating species found in the amazon is the tarantula. we decided to look inside their habitat. what we're going to do is try to coordinate between the two of us to look inside there and see if a we can find the tarantula, or b, whether we can get it. wow, he's right there. it is a tarantula. >> i think he just stroke at the camera. >> i felt that through chord!
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>> i felt it through, through the screen. still striking us. >> i just have this vision of him coming out and like really fast and me screaming flailing backwards, knocking you over, and the spider on my hand. >> there are a lot of spiders here in the amazon. why do you think there's so much left to be discovered? >> first of all, the science community hasn't given arachnids in general enough attention as they have to insects. in this area of the amazon diversity is high. we're sitting in a place that is the most biodiverse in the area. and this area hasn't received the attention needed to adequately survey the extent of spider diversity. >> on our last day in the amazon our investigative persistence paid off. this was indeed an egg sack. the pole-like structure.
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this is a radical departure of what we know about spider reproductive cycle. one of the many discoveries of the secrets hidden in the jungle. i think spider experts are going to be very skeptical about what we found. we did as well as we could to really isolate these things. it's going to be a great one to follow up on. >> how long did it take to you find the region where these structures were discovered? >> you know to get to that island it takes four flights a bus ride and two canoe rides. >> wow! >> it was quite a journey getting out there, part of the fun but when we got out there we couldn't believe we found one let alone 45 of these things. we had very little to go on, we just knew there were two on this island and we had to find more. >> congratulations. >> marita, you have something quite different coming up for us
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and i hear it's edible maybe. >> it is. we have a break through in faux meats. we took a journey into barbecue and i'll tell you about it. about. >> we want to know what you think. follow us on twitter and adults exposed to mediocre education. >> stealing education, part of our week long, in depth series. america tonight only on al jazeera america al jazeera america. we open up your world. >> here on america tonight, an opportunity for all of america to be heard. >> our shows explore the issues that shape our lives. >> new questions are raised about the american intervention. >> from unexpected viewpoints to live changing innovations, dollars and cents to powerful storytelling. >> we are at a tipping point in america's history! >> al jazeera america.
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there's more to it.
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the most important money stories of the day might effect your savings, your job or your retirement. whether it's bail-outs or bond rates this stuff gets complicated. but don't worry. i'm here to take the fear out of finance. every night on my show i break down confusing financial speak and make it real. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> hi, welcome back to "techknow". i'm phil torres here with kyle, marita and crystal. marita what you got for us. >> so imagine the day when you go to the supermarket and instead of going to the meat section you go to the protein section.
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you have chicken, beef and pork but a whole lot of plant based protein as well. i got to check out their products and put it to the test in a barbecue. let's check it out. grilled, sauteed, processed or packaged. >> organic science fan? >> america's obsession with meet is ferocious. >> four pounds is even better. >> and bigger is better when it comes to our april tide as evidenced from this wendy's ad from the '80s which epitomizes america's infatuation with beef. >> where's the beef? >> we school 250 pounds per person per year. experts predict we won't be able to sustain it. >> i would say we are already not doing it sustainably. we already are applying on the planet's resources more than we really should be if you just look at climate change alone.
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>> the united nations estimates that meat consumption will rise nearly 75% by 2050. the rising trend has risen a nut meat alternative. hoping to ease our reliance. here in el segundo california, it is the headquarters of a startup with ambitions that are anything but small. >> they had sort of a calling internally to do something about, welfare component to the climate change component to three, human health. >> ethan brown is the ceo of beyond meat. fully started looking at technoy where you could go beyond meat, it would be all plant matter. we are taking protein through plants, instead of running it through the industrial livestock situation, we are running it through a process that is truly reminiscent to meat. >> what makes your product unique? >> it is the beauty of this
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fibrous structure. i'm not saying we're there yet, maybe 80% of the way there but we're definitely not going to stop until you order chicken breast and our product and say, i can't tell the different difference. >> for aring tofu and veggie based products have seemed to satisfy but not the alternative. but none has seemed to satisfy their carnivore cravings. >> how do you produce an alternative protein that may in fact deliver more protein per unit while also trying to meet some of the cultural traditions and cultural products of protein? >> we are in the beyond meat tasting kitchen. here is where we do product development, we do recipe development. so now we're going to make fajitas. >> here we go. that's good. it's hard to tell the difference. >> even before i became involved as the entrepreneur, professionals at the university
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of missouri who are working on this, fu hun chez and hayward huff, truly brilliant guys, doing trial and error, simply of these through the heating and cooling process, about ten years later they got it. >> all production for beyond meat happens under one roof right here in the plant in columbia, missouri, it's beyond freezing so let's go inside. >> we're standing in the manufacturing space. what we're going to do right now is go through the various processing steps through to packaging. >> okay, let's check it out. ♪ >> so this is our first time we see the product, we take our dry material, we take our wet ingredients, we mix them together, form a slurry and this is what it comes out to be like. >> it's definitely chicken-like. >> we take the strands and send them through the stringer that gives the chickenless strips. >> how am i doing, baby? >> you're doing good.
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>> we put in fluids, spices and flavorings. then we'll go to the grill where we actually sear the surface to give it a presentation. >> compare it to the real chicken where where production takes weeks. to produce just one pound of chicken it takes about 468 gallons of water, 2 pounds of grain or feed, and eight times the amount of fossil fuels that is used to grow plants. it's one thing to say your product looks and tastes the most like chicken. but it's another to put it to the test in an authentic texas barbecue. get ready for a throw-down! frieda, are you ready to smoke up some chicken? >> absolutely, let's do it. >> let's go.
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this is what's going to be compared to the real chicken? >> compared to this, yes. >> what do you think you can do with it? >> the only thing i would do with it is go for a pulled chicken add a little bit of chipotle barbecue sauce. so mike, if you were to serve this sandwich up here, do you think your average customer would tell difference? >> my average customer, they are very knowledgeable on food. would i say yes. >> can we ask your average customer? >> absolutely. >> let's do it. what's your favorite thing to order here? >> baby back ribs. >> definitely brisket. we have two orders of it. >> we pulled up a chicken sandwich that doesn't havefully chicken in its. what do you think? >> it actually does taste like chicken. >> i'm a big meat eater so i don't know if i would choose it over real -- but if there was a health benefit i could do it. >> there's something about eating that juicy piece of meet, -- meat, do you think it would
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be a huge challenge, a big leap for a meat eater to switch? >> that's the million dollar question. >> do you think would you give up your brisket sandwich for a dish like this? >> honestly not yet but we'll -- it's pretty good. >> let me know how it tastes. >> its looks like chicken. >> the layer is trying to mimic that animal tissue. >> it's closer to actual chicken than i expected. it's actually good for faux meat i think. >> yeah. >> it's almost hard to tell the difference. >> even the appearance is different. if this were brown or green you wouldn't think -- >> to make a substitute for meat but faux meet it has to look the part. >> so what's the benefit for me to choose this faux meat product over an actual chicken in the grocery store then? >> according to them there's two of them, two main ones.
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one is the health benefit in that it doesn't have all those saturated fats. you know they can really isolate -- >> delicious saturated fat. >> and the second is the environmental benefit in that traditional meat production has a pretty hefty environmental footprint. they're taking the animal out of the equation and providing the protein directly to you. >> all right, to fake meat to a type of fake cigarette. crystal what do you have next? >> we're talking about vaping. from electronic cigarettes. >> we'll see that after the break. the stream is uniquely interactive television. in fact, we depend on you, your ideas, your concerns. >> all these folks are making a whole lot of money. >> you are one of the voices of this show. >> i think you've offended everyone with that kathy. >> hold on, there's some room to offend people, i'm here. >> we have a right to know what's in our food and monsanto do not have the right to hide it from us. >> so join the conversation and make it your own.
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>> watch the stream. >> and join the conversation online @ajamstream. real reporting that brings you the world. giving you a real global perspective like no other can. real reporting from around the world. this is what we do. al jazeera america. while you were asleep news was happening.
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> hi guys, welcome back. crystal, what technology are you break. >> hi guys, welcome back. crystal, what technology are you bringing us this week? >> we're talking about vaping, the use much electronic cigarettes. they are increasing in popularity. we went to a convention in anaheim to look at this increasing subculture. >> all right, let's check it out. >> everywhere you look these days people are puffing on a new alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. they're called electronic cigarettes and they've become hugely popular. thanks in part to a slew of glitzy television ads featuring celebrities touting their virtues. >> i'm jenny mccarthy and i finally found a smarter alternative to cigarettes. >> as a nicotine researcher i was intrigued to witness this
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phenomenon firsts hand. >> we're at the first ecc, the first electronic cigarette convention. e-cigs sales are estimated to hit 1.7 billion this year. let's go in and see what the fuss is all about. ♪ ♪ >> cigarettes aren't cool anymore, believe it or not. >> after losing his father to lung cancer a chinese pharmacist named hon lik invented e cigarettes. with e cigs there's no combustion to produce, this instead there's a baddary powered atomizer. mixture turns into vapor which the user inhails.
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the habit is called vapping and those who do it are called vap-ers. fully used to smoke and my lungt very bad. i turned to vappinging vap. to to vaping. >> i just got progressively better and better and better. >> but not everyone sticks with ecigs. for one e-cigs don't have the heat of conventional cigarettes. but those who have converted say the health benefits are worth it including the potential to wean yourself out of nicotine. customizing, mods are not only refillable but often feature variable voltage batteries. >> i can customize the amount of draw, if the colder hit, if it's a warmer hit, as well as that's just one piece of the puzzle. there's like hundreds and hundreds of variations that you can make. >> the liquid in the e-cigarette canister can contain anything
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from concentrations of nicotine from zero to 25 or 26 milligrams to juicing. and there's fruity flavors. here is where the controversy lies, critics are concerned that these attractive fruity flavors can help young people who stars vaping e-cigs, >> this is yoga land of e-cigs. >> it actually smells like pizza. i would eat this. for me because of my background that's one of my main concerns right now is there a top limit to the concentration of nicotine that you can put in? >> right now, there's not. we have the choice right now to buy some mix onld and mix your own juice. >> we tend to regulate this in this country. we don't like people making their own moon shine in their bathtubs. this is something the fda is going to step in and influence.
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>> we're prepared for that. >> but so far the fda has not set forth any regulations for the manufacture, sale or marketing of e-cigarettes. in the meantime, there is a wild west vibe to the industry and a growing movement of passionate vap-ers. like 73-year-old karen lee. >> i'm never going back to regular cigarettes. i smoked for 55 years. >> what do you think about the proposed fda regulations that are coming out? >> i think they stink. >> why? >> because they're going to condemn people back to death and force them right back to cigarettes that are already your honor healthy. >> but healther doesn't necessarily mean healthy. >> investigating the health implication of e-cigarettes. >> i don't want people to assume, before they know its health effects and its public health effects.
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>> professor susan schick is about to embark on an fda funded study on how segregates. >> what blow out will be what the person who is smoking it is inhails. this is a laser photometer. it is a instrument i use to measure the mass of particles that are in the air. so we're at 4 micrograms per cubic meter now. and the moment i start flowing that across the inlet to the particle -- >> 400, wow! >> now we're actually spiking because this thing won't read over 100 milligrams. so we shifted from micrograms to over 100 milligrams. it's a lot of particles. the reason i care about particles is that breathing particles causes cardiovascular disease. causes people to die of heart tacks. plain and simple. >> there's the potential side effect of secondhand vapping or evenly what you could call third
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hand vaping. >> i know when you let the smoke loose in the room, it reacts with normal gases in the air to form carcinogens. >> as cigarettes grow in popularity, there should be -- a notice fm >> how did you feel surrounded by that many people vapping. >> those symptoms i think about when i'm studying nicotine exposure. my heart was racing just being in the room. >> from spiders to faux meat to segregates. it's been quite an interesting week in science. we'll catch you next week in are "techknow". >> dive deep into these stories and go behind the scenes at join us on facebook google pulp,
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twitter and more. >> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm jonathan betz in new york. >> i believe strongly that iran needs to be part of the solution to the syrian crisis. >> iran gets the invite but just days before the syrian peace talks fears they might fall apart. >> a dangerous turn in the koran. ukraine. >> i'm jessica taff


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